I was (still am) familiar with quite a few members serving in the old SAP particularly in special forces and riot division in the 80s and 90s. Those were the blokes often first to the scene of any disturbance, the cops the media loved to portray across their front pages (I have clippings) as the evil white cops shooting at "innocent" [rioting/ necklacing/ school burning - insert any violent description here] blacks. Most were young lads facing immense peril day in and day out, the front-line soldiers laying it on the line daily keeping us schmos safe.
I can recall many being bright young men, strangely always cheerful, mischievous. I suppose they had to be to mask the pressure they were under. What I also saw was the consequences and brutality of the dangers they faced. I saw guys that had been stabbed, shot, disfigured with chunks of flesh missing from their bodies, some disabled, and many suicidal (three in this group I knew committed suicide after suffering severe depression and PTSD). I recall one particular chap I was closest to, I'll call him "D" (I think about him often) who was a strapping body-builder, a powerlifter, he had legs and arms the size of tree trunks, a fit, articulate individual. One day we got news that he had drunk a bottle of whiskey and gassed himself. We had no clue. He kept whatever demons he had to himself. Men don't talk about their feelings and counselling was not a priority anyway, just like today. He left a young boy behind.
Post 1994, these soldiers were discarded like spent ammo by the Nats, left to fend for themselves, the Nat leadership having negotiated themselves a free pass. Not so people like Eugene de Kock and others who carried out the dirty work for the Nats. Yes, granted some went over the top but if amnesty was acceptable for people who shot up parishioners in a church, why not extend that cover to include all acts of violence for political reasons? And can anybody recall one instance when a Nat leader went to bat for his men? Roelf, Pik, FW, Vlok? None. So understand me when I say then that I despise the old regime almost as much as the current one. People who sell out their own are beneath contempt and say what you like about the ANC, they never sold out their own. Witness Vlok's antics of late, an embarrassment, a humiliation and disservice to all the policemen that put their lives on the line for him and his ilk.
Coming across this piece about police veterans being shafted is disturbing because it brings back memories I'd rather leave behind. That these men should have to beg for their meagre pensions is symptomatic of what is wrong with our values. We should be kissing these people's feet. We should be having a Memorial Day weekend like the Americans had yesterday, celebrating and honouring people who serve(d) - and/or died - protecting us. Why they need to beg for their rightful dues is beyond me especially when you consider that this "pension" is a pittance compared to the millions wasted on VIP protection or the annual SAA bailout for example.
Or maybe I'm being cynical but is this perhaps just the ANC's crude way of saying "F U" to the soldiers of the white regime? Place enough obstacles in their path hoping they go away. I'd be interested to know the racial composition of these former police officers. It wouldn't surprise me if most were white and members of the old SAP.
A luta continua!
The Democratic Alliance (DA) has learnt from officials at the Public Protector's office that retired South African Police Service (SAPS) members, who have dedicated their lives to the service of the citizens of South Africa , are being denied their pensions for up to three full years, or having their pensions illegally deducted as part of sick-leave.
According to the same sources, 2,000 ex-SAPS members are in this predicament.
It is deeply disturbing that the SAPS is displaying this attitude towards their retirees, and it is of concern that a full investigation into the matter, the Niemand Report, was sent to the Minister in October last year and absolutely nothing has being done about it.
Time and again the Democratic Alliance is approached for assistance by desperate ex-SAPS members who have retired and who have the bank threatening to attach their homes because the SAPS won't pay their pensions; or because they have been diagnosed with various work-related illnesses, and the SAPS refuses to board them, and then illegally attaches their pension in lieu of legal sick days missed from work.
The SAPS has been systematically breaking the law by failing to pay their retiring officers. I will today write to the Minister of Police asking why he has not acted on the Niemand Report, which, like so many other revealing reports before it, seems to have been hidden from the eyes of the public for political purposes.
Meanwhile, we ask that any SAPS member who has been denied a pension, or has not received their first pension payment within six weeks of retiring, please contacts the DA via email@example.com. We will see to it that the details go to the Public Protector for investigation as per their request.
Statement issued by Dianne Kohler Barnard MP Democratic Alliance Shadow Minister of Police.